"Caleb? There's a dance at the high-school this weekend. You going with anyone?"
It was Mary Lou, that Whore of Babylon in her short skirt, that Jezebel with her painted face. Even here, in the garden out behind the church after evening Bible study, even here the snake had followed him.
"'Cause if you weren't, well, I don't have a date yet. I mean, I was dating Harry Taylor, but he hasn't asked me so if somebody else wanted to, well, I might just say yes."
He had no knife on him but he could almost feel it in his hand just the same. He could see it plunge into her abdomen and her pink dress darken out from the wound with the stain of her woman's blood. He had no knife on him. "If the tokens of virginity not be found, the men of the city shall stone her with stones that she die." He picked up a rock. It felt heavy in his hand.
The light from the church window illuminated her as she stepped forward. "What is it you're going on about?" Her blonde hair and pale blue eyes showed no signs of the sin he knew was there.
"It is not good for a man to endure the touch a woman. First Corinthians. Seven. One." Caleb had been a baseball pitcher on the high-school team for three years running. He threw the rock, hard and fast. It hit her in the shoulder, tearing a hole in her dress. He could see blood welling against her skin. "Hallelujah." It wasn't as good as the knife, but it was good. She screamed and that was even better. He found another rock. "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection."
"Mary Sue? Mary Sue?" And then Harry was there. Harry was weak, easily led into temptation like Adam had been led by Eve. "What the hell did you do to her, you bastard?"
The punch sent Caleb's head spinning. He fell against the hard stone wall of the church. Harry stood over him, hand raised, ready to hit him again, but then the girl started sniveling. "Harry, please. Just get me out of here."
Harry put an arm around her and led her away. "You better watch your back," he called out to Caleb.
Harry, by himself, was nothing. He'd caught Caleb off guard, was all. Caleb touched his jaw, where Harry had hit him, and winced. Mary Lou had three brothers, big and brawny men. It could be that Harry would call on them. The stones felt cold against Caleb's back until he recalled the words of the Lord and they warmed him. "When you go out to battle and see your enemies, and see horses, and chariots, and a people more than you, be not afraid for the priest shall approach and the Lord's blessings will be upon the holy man and none of the righteous shall come to harm."
Caleb carefully made his way back around to the front of the church, keeping an eye out, but neither Harry nor Mary Lou's brothers were anywhere about. He stared at the church. The Lord's blessings will be upon the holy man and none of the righteous shall come to harm. Caleb went into the church and found the pastor in his office, sorting through some papers. "Pastor Ward? I'm not disturbing you, am I? I wouldn't want to keep you if you had somewhere else to be."
"No, some of the women on the choir committee are busy in one of the meeting rooms. I'll be here for a while longer."
The Lord's blessings will be upon the holy man and none of the righteous shall come to harm "I was just wondering what it takes to become a preacher."
The pastor gazed at him thoughtfully. "In the long run you'd have to attend either a theological seminary or a Bible college, but that'd be after you finished high-school. Of course before you'd be accepted at a school, you'd have to sure of your calling. Volunteering here at the church tends to go a good long way toward sorting that out."
"You don't mind if I stay a bit and pray on it, do you pastor?"
"Not at all."
He sat in a pew at the back of the church with his hands folded together in prayer. He could still see the tear in the pink dress and the blood welling outward from the wound. The vision was as strong as if he had stabbed her. It was her fault. Women were weak, tainted by Eve's sin. Mary Sue had tempted him. All these visions of knives and stones and blood, she was to blame. He wasn't strong enough to withstand the stain of women's sin, no man was, but the Lord's will would bind a priest like steel wire, its barbs ripping into the skin and driving out sin. A priest would not be plagued by visions, not unless those visions did represent the Lord's will.